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Seniors Helping Seniors- VITA vital for those needing tax preparation help

Written by Bruce Lindner. Posted in Community News & People in the News, Featured, Senior Living

Published on February 05, 2020 with No Comments

Tax season can be stressful for anyone! Community members who are struggling financially can face another layer of stress when they are not sure how to cover the cost of tax preparation.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs are in place to help individuals with low to moderate incomes. United Way of Porter County brings these programs to our communities each year to help those in need.

The programs offer no-cost, face-to-face tax help by IRS-tax law certified volunteers who will take care of the preparation and electronic filing. Appointments are available from Feb. 3 to April 13 at the United Way office, 951 Eastport Centre Drive in Valparaiso. Appointments can be made by calling 219-464-3583 ext. 108 or via online at www.unitedwaypc.org.

Appointment times vary by days: Mondays 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Tuesdays 1:00 to 6:00 p.m., Wednesdays 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Thursdays 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and select Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Trained volunteers continue to be the backbone of the programs and their knowledge and expertise are vital to assisting program participants.

Jim Mooney has been a VITA volunteer for two years and embraces the opportunity to give back while engaging in solution-seeking thought processes.

“I like volunteer experiences that give back to the community while having me think through the solution. Providing tax return assistance with the VITA program hits that target dead center,” he says. “It’s rewarding to help people overcome their challenges.  Tax returns are an annual responsibility, but also an annual frustration for many.

“Using my knowledge gained through my VITA volunteer experience to help others with their taxes is something that benefits many.”

Jim is also a SHIP volunteer at our offices, helping seniors with their Medicare-related questions and decisions.

The Indiana State Health Insurance Assistance Program provides free and impartial counseling on Medicare. The volunteer counselors just wrapped up their busiest time of year.

“During the Medicare Open Enrollment Period that runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, the SHIP counselors at PCACS had 274 client contacts,” says SHIP coordinator Ginger Brockwehl, who is also a VITA volunteer. “During the entire year, our group of counselors had 546 contacts, so we had 50 percent of our activity during the Open Enrollment Period.”

While the open enrollment period may be complete, the volunteers are still available year-round for questions and to serve as speakers to groups. For more information, contact Ginger at 219-464-1028 or at ship@portercountyacs.org.

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About Bruce Lindner

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle.  Bruce Lindner has worked in the not-for-profit world for more than 25 years and has been executive director of Porter County Aging and Community Services for five. A native of the Region, he was raised in Portage and he graduated from Valparaiso University. You can call him at 219-464-9736 or e-mail at bhlindner@frontier.com.

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